The Rip Van Winkle Caper
|"The Rip Van Winkle Caper"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Justus Addiss|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||April 21, 1961|
To escape the law after stealing $1 million worth of gold bricks from a train on its way from Fort Knox to Los Angeles, a band of four gold thieves, led by foreign-accented scientist-mastermind Farwell (Oscar Beregi, Jr.), hide in a secret cave in Death Valley, California. Farwell has designed suspended animation chambers and set them for approximately 100 years, figuring that by 2061, no one will remember the robbery, and the gang will be in the clear.
When they wake up, things begin to go awry. All that remains of Erbie is his skeleton, his suspended animation chamber having been breached by a falling rock. Greed soon begins consuming the others. Brooks demands that DeCruz drive the getaway car. DeCruz kills Brooks by running him over with the getaway truck, but then finds that the brakes no longer work and barely escapes before the vehicle crashes into a ravine. Now Farwell and DeCruz must walk through the desert in the summer heat, carrying as much gold as they can on their backs.
Farwell, who is older and heavier, loses his canteen, and DeCruz offers him a sip of water from his canteen, for the price of one gold bar. When the fee goes up to two bars, Farwell strikes DeCruz with the gold bricks, killing him. Farwell then continues to a highway, lugging the gold that he refuses to abandon. Finally, weak and dehydrated, he collapses. Farwell offers his last gold bar to a man from a futuristic car that has driven up, in exchange for water and a ride to the nearest town; but he dies a few moments later.
As the man, named George, gets back into his car to report Farwell's death to the police, he quizzically remarks to his wife, "Can you imagine that? He offered this to me as if it was really worth something." The wife vaguely recalls that gold had indeed been valuable at some time in the distant past. The husband replies, "Sure, about a hundred years or so ago, before they found a way of manufacturing it," and tosses the gold bar away.
The futuristic car carrying the couple who find the dying Farwell is a leftover prop, somewhat modified, from MGM's 1956 film Forbidden Planet.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0